Selling a car is a big deal; likely the most expensive thing you’ll sell apart from your house, so you need to be extremely careful you have all your paperwork in order and strive to tick all the relevant boxes that need to be ticked. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, more famously known as the DVLA, is the main body through which all vehicular transactions have to go in the UK, so whatever you end up doing in terms of haggling, you ought not do anything other than follow the DVLA’s guidance down to the smallest jot and tittle. Not to take this seriously is likely to cause you severe headaches at some point down the line.

To Sell Your Car

As mentioned, this is particularly stressful, from multiple angles. Not only do you need to ensure that all the service history and MOT documents are in order, you also need to know the condition of the tyres and brakes, so as not to sell it under false impressions. Then there’s the haggling over the price or the practicalities of how you’re going to accept payment, not to mention the annoyance of the potential buyer walking away from the deal, and the irritation of having had to pay for advertising fees for a number of days or weeks.

But the DVLA, as mentioned, is the one body you cannot afford to ignore or avoid; what it says goes, so you need to know what this is. Its job, after all, is to register all the driving licences in the entirety of the United Kingdom and to have instant knowledge of every vehicle that exists within British shores, as well as all previous owners, so that it is completely clear who exactly has to pay vehicle road tax, annually or bi-annually.

It is imperative that you ensure that all your DVLA held details are up to date; you could end up facing legal ramifications and extra taxes if you let it slide, even if you’ve already sold your car; a nasty of fine of £1,000 awaits! It is not in the DVLA’s interest for this updating of details to be cumbersome or time-consuming, however, so buyers can buy with relative confidence and sellers can know that they’re not in any trouble.


The DVLA, or Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, can trace itself back to 1965. Before that point in time it was the duty of a County council and Borough to retains records of local motor vehicles; each one collectively contributing to a picture of the UK as a whole. The population in general, and vehicle owning population in particular, gradually expanded to the point where this arrangement became impractical and inefficient; hence, the DVLA was born.

Some six decades later, the DVLA keeps tabs on every single driver of every single roadworthy vehicle in the United Kingdom. With its headquarters in Swansea it manages to do this by using a vast computer-driven database. The situation in Northern Ireland is slightly different; it depends upon something similar but differently named, ie. the Driver and Vehicle Agency. Incidentally, the vehicles of British Forces stationed in Germany also fall within the DVLA’s remit, as well as the various consular and diplomatic vehicles used by the Foreign Office.

DVLA Does What, Exactly?

Good question. The DVLA does the following tasks:

  • Collecting and storing driver disqualifications, endorsements and medical conditions.
  • Granting and producing photocard driving licenses.
  • Authorising vehicle registration certificates.
  • Launching punitive action towards vehicle tax evaders.
  • Registering and sending out tachograph cards.
  • Providing DVLA personalised registrations.
  • Assisting the police and other relevant authorities with criminal investigations.
  • Disseminating anonymized vehicular information to those who have access to it.


There are more than 40 million vehicles in the DVLA’s database; you can therefore look forward to your next purchase with the maximum amount of information at your disposal. No longer are you held hostage to the mountain of paperwork that may or may not have been present or authentic when searching for a used car that is ‘clean’ and reliable. The DVLA holds everything on a centrally recorded database; every registered keeper, past and present, should be there, as well as every properly recorded, genuine MOT history check.

The DVLA also retains other information, such as the year of your vehicle was manufactured, its engine capacity, the particular fuel type, colour; even the tax rates you’ll potentially have to pay as its new owner. It works equally well for buyers and sellers because no physical copy of a V5C is needed, and there’s no fear that it’s somehow been fraudulently copied.

Just Sold It?

You must let the DVLA know as soon as you have completed the sale of a vehicle; as long as you delay that information from getting to them you are still the named and registered owner of that vehicle, thus are responsible for it if there were to be any discrepancies or anomalies with regard to taxation and registration. Hypothetical fines for parking or speeding could also be traced to you if you don’t quickly get this done. If you completely forget to do it then you could be liable for a £1,000 fine!

Your V5C logbook must be consulted for those vital details required by the DVLA. If for some reason you’ve mislaid it, don’t panic; a replacement can fairly painlessly be procured. If you have it, you’ll have to enter your specific details into Section 6 so that the new registered keeper can become its right and proper owner; information including their name and address is required. Then in section 10 you should write that same information, being mindful to store these details somewhere else, for your own records, just in case.

You both must then sign section 8, while the new registered owner will get to hang onto section 10. Ensure that you send the completed sections 1-8 directly to this address, without delay:

SA99 1BA.

If you happen to be transferring or selling your motor to some sort of insurer, trader or dismantler, section 9 is the one that needs to be filled in instead. In that case, you should only send section 9 to the DVLA (same address as above), leaving the relevant party to retain the remainder of the V5C logbook.

You should expect to be receiving an official acknowledgment that this information has been safely received and processed within a calendar month, thus formally relieving you of any further duties or responsibilities towards the vehicle in question. If it doesn’t arrive, don’t panic; instead, phone 0300 7906802 and speak to the friendly and helpful DVLA Customer Enquiries.

It is also possible to do this online, via the UK Government’s website; however, in order to do so you will still need all the vital details from your paper V5C logbook to hand; the service is unfortunately only active between the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, which may or may not be convenient for you, depending on your circumstances.

Tax Refund?

As of 2014 (October, to be precise), road tax no longer needed to be carried over after you’ve sold your vehicle, meaning that the new owner must ensure that they have their road tax and car insurance in place before driving from your driveway. This also means that your Direct Debit should stop immediately, or you can claim a refund for the months remaining if you pay in one lump sum.

In 2017, a whopping £360 million was dished out by the DVLA in terms of refunds after cars had been sold. Your cheque, if entitled to one, will come winging its way back to the same address found on your vehicle logbook. You will only be refunded for any full months remaining on your vehicle tax, however, excluding partial months. If you don’t receive anything by about a month and a half, get in touch with them; in fact, one incentive for entering your details online is that it speeds up the process of getting this cheque back into your hands.

Car Information Via The DVLA

On any car which has been UK registered, the DVLA will information on:

  • The date of that vehicle’s MOT and road tax expiry.
  • The engine size, year of manufacture and color.
  • The date it was registered.
  • The applicable tax rate.
  • Its current and previous registered owners.
  • All MOT tests, if made after 2005; details of passes or fails, location of tests, recorded mileage and minor problems or failed parts.
  • Details of recalled parts or accessories based on safety concerns.
  • Basic vehicle details and information; registration number only.

Thus, you can quickly find out how much tax is to be refunded or when an MOT is due; things which may come in useful when haggling over that initial asking price. Indeed, if you have mislaid your V5C and are awaiting a new one, you can source a range of details (engine size, colour, MOT records etc.) simply by accessing this site.

Actually, the details of the MOT history, including major defects and recorded advisories, are also included which gives you extra information and knowledge, even aside from the asking price, ie. you’ll know which areas to attend to and invest in in the years to come. Furthermore, if there were any safety recalls for whatever reason, it will give you peace of mind to know that they were satisfactorily dealt with. Equally, you can assure a possible buyer that everything is as it should be, that anything that was amiss has been properly fixed and approved.

Via DVLA postal route only, you can find out many details of the previous and current registered owners; of course, a suitable reason will be required, such as locating an abandoned vehicle’s owner or tracking down a vehicle after a serious accident.

Telling The DVLA About Your Sale

The particular sections of your V5C logbook, 6 and 8, are there for you to fill in once you’ve managed to sell your car privately; section 9 is designed for the likes of a dismantler, insurer or motor trader. All correspondence should go to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BD.

The website is able to be used in order to inform the DVLA of your transfer of ownership and car sale. You should not use this, though, if you have mailed in your physical logbook; just one route is sufficient, in order to minimise any confusion or duplication. The only limitation is that it is available between the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, which should be fine for most people.

In general, the DVLA is contactable through letter, e-mail or phone. There is even a handy ‘Contact DVLA’ page on their website, with the exact details of each particular department. If there is anything about which you’re worried or concerned, you can call Customer Enquiries on 0300 790 6802, or write to them at Vehicle Customer Services, DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AR.

MOT Due Date, Via The DVLA?

You can certainly find out, through the DVLA, when your current MOT expires or your next one is due, whether you live in Wales, Scotland or England. All you require is your vehicle registration number; these days, MOT tests are recorded centrally, about two weeks after it is administered at any MOT authorised garage nationwide. There is an intuitive, user-friendly section of the DVLA’s website, which allows you to access such details, using your V5C logbook’s 11-digit number.

The basic details of the car in question will pop up on the screen; one more click and you can expand the MOT history section and view all the relevant tests taken, pass or fail, over the years. It is even possible for you to know the exact location of where the test was taken by searching the ‘view test location’ section, found beside each test result. The V5C’s 11-digit Document Reference Number is all that is required.

The down arrow can be expanded in order to view details of any Outstanding vehicle recalls.

I Want To Retain My Registration/Custom Plates

The DVLA can assist you in your desire to keep hold of your personalised registration plates, allowing you to transfer to a subsequent vehicle at a later point in time. What usually happens is that the vehicle which has taken on the custom plates will be re-united with its original plates before yours were first put on; assuming that it is a roadworthy vehicle that ordinarily has MOT tests.

Another stipulation is that it has had regular road tax applied for or a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) over the past five years, consecutively. If, for whatever reason, your car has been off road for more than five years, you’ll have to start that road tax process all over again, in order for you to be able to go through the process of keeping your custom number plates and using them for future vehicles. It might be the case that some form of vehicle inspection will have to be carried out, depending on the circumstances.

Yet another advantage of doing things online is that the change you desire will happen instantly – you can begin attributing your personalised plates to another vehicle right away, using the relevant reference number given to you when you apply; as long as an inspection is not required.

If you choose to do it by regular mail, the process should take around a fortnight; it will also require you to send in a filled-in V317 ‘transfer or retain a vehicle registration number’ form, as well as the V5C (vehicle logbook), or the new owner’s supplement replete with a filled-in V62 ‘application for a vehicle registration certificate V5C’. An £80 transfer fee is mandatory, regardless of whether you opt to do it online or via land mail.

The DVLA will send you a V778 retention document, so you will know for sure when your bid to retain your own private registration number has been approved. With this, you now have the right to attribute that personalised number plate for a decade! Before you reach that milestone, you must go through a renewal process in order to maintain your rights over it.

If you happen to destroy or sell your vehicle before receiving the all-important V778 form, you automatically forfeit your right to use your personalised plates. You can at any time decide to relinquish your ownership over this private number plate, even securing a complete refund of the £80, but only if you haven’t attributed them to any subsequent vehicle.